Need. Want. Desire.
Learning to divide these three elements are the pyramidal cornerstone of human growth. Air we need. Water we need. Food we need. Cars we want. Tablets we want. Frothing, primal acts beyond the drive towards reproduction we desire.
Within the basic needs we branch out into wants and desires. We need protein as a part of a balanced diet, but we want beef, and not just any beef, we desire a certified organic, ethically raised and slaughtered Kobe beef steak from a single prefecture in Japan prepared by a locally owned restaurant with a chef whose accolades are lengthier than the lineage of the cow. Does your body need that particular protein source? It would be healthy to digest, would promote both the local and global economy, so in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it is needed. Is it completely necessary to go to that level of effort for your protein source? No. So there’s an even finer line between need and necessity.
The Earth needs balance, but can adapt when its homeostasis is disrupted. Excessive heat is moderated by thunderstorms. Excessive cold is buffered by chinook winds. If humans look to extremes of minutiae within their diet, it has to be subsequently regulated down the line with something of contrast. How many times have you gone to the “it” restaurant and only wanted to go for drive-thru afterwards? It’s not that you didn’t have a great meal most times, it was your body regulating itself. Taking one extreme and feeding the other. If you push too far in one direction, you’re bound to spring back like an organic pendulum. Whether it’s a vegetarian who sneaks meat, a locavore who eats Thai food or an environmentalist drinking out of a paper cup, there’s an almost primal urge to swing from one extreme to the other to find the comforting arc in between.
Our own personal arc swings wilder at different points in our life. The stresses of adolescence. The anxiety of venturing out on your own for the first time. The inner tension of starting your first adult job. These are all relatively universal stresses.
Modernity has introduced more stresses with secondary means to communicate and socialize: video games, social media, etc. These bring gradual stresses to the body and mind. Your body gets unconsciously tense hanging on the words of others on a Twitter timeline, for example. Your mind takes in more information than is logical in a short span. A flood of information that have no common thread except for the fact that you “follow” it. This stress gets compounded when it’s no longer social, but an added component to a job.
Sometimes a passion infiltrates a job, not because there’s necessarily anything to be passionate about, but because that passion is just there in everything someone does. A sanitation worker may simply collect garbage, but there’s someone out there who does their job in the most efficient and studious manner out there. Or someone working in food service who may just sell a piece of meat or fish, but wants to know everything about it. To swing the pendulum wide to share their arc with as many as possible.
Is passion a need? To the passionate, in that moment, it is. But from an outsider’s perspective, it’s simply a moment. Sharing that passion in any way possible can venture forth into want and very quickly to desire. The arc of the pendulum swings wider and wider. A blur of motion until the arc is a flash of light. Is the light passion? Is the light even there?
In that moment, passion dissolves and the original intent of sharing is blinded by need and desire to connect. Most outside observers simply see a ticking pendulum, moving and swaying. Only the person within the arc sees the blur, sees the irradiating light. Someone may see a brief flash. A subliminal lightning strike. But mostly it’s a self-contained environment. That convivial intent becomes isolating. What was supposed to be a wide-reaching embrace becomes nothing more than embracing the air. A need for air. Gasping for it because the need was superseded by want and desire.
Let the pendulum swing. Find its own motion. Pushing each end wider and wider just breaks it and sometimes breaking free isn’t liberating. It’s just broken.